The last and least memorable of John Ford's famous cavalry trilogy (following Fort Apache and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon), Rio Grande nonetheless has an interesting continuity about the gentlemanly rules of military conduct.... more » Here the focus is on the family. While creating a heated controversy over his handling of the Apache war, John Wayne must also contend with disgruntled wife Maureen O'Hara and estranged son Claude Jarman Jr., a new recruit trying to earn his father's love and respect. Ford seems to suggest that there are two conflicting codes of honor in every cavalry officer's life, the personal as well as the professional, and that it takes an act of heroism to maintain both. It's fascinating to observe Wayne's progression throughout the trilogy, as his personal stakes intensify. Also, this is the first of five onscreen appearances between the Duke and O'Hara, each filled with a competitive spirit and stormy sexuality. --Bill Desowitz« less
John Ford's Triumphant Conclusion to Cavalry Trilogy!
Benjamin J Burgraff | Las Vegas | 04/22/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"'Rio Grande', the last of director John Ford's 'unofficial' Cavalry Trilogy, has often been unfairly judged the 'weakest' of the three westerns. Certainly, it lacks the poetic quality of 'She Wore a Yellow Ribbon', or the revisionist view of a thinly-disguised reworking of the events surrounding the death of George Armstrong Custer ('Fort Apache'), but for richness of detail, a sense of the camaraderie of cavalrymen, an 'adult' (in the best sense of the word) love story, and a symbolic 'rejoining' of North and South conclusion that may have you tapping your toe, 'Rio Grande' is hard to beat!It is remarkable that 'Rio Grande' ever got to the screen; Ford hadn't planned to make it, but in order to get Republic Pictures to agree to his demands for 'The Quiet Man' (he wanted the film to be shot on location in Ireland, and in color), he had to agree to do a 'quickie' western that would turn a quick profit for the usually cash-strapped studio. This is, perhaps, a reason why the film is held in less esteem than it deserves. 'Rio Grande' may have not been born with high expectations, but with John Ford in the director's chair, and John Wayne and the Ford 'family' in the cast and crew, the potential for something 'special' was ALWAYS present!A few bits of trivia to enhance your viewing pleasure: Yes, that IS Ken Curtis, singing with The Sons of the Pioneers, in the film...while uncredited, he made a favorable impression with Ford, and soon became a part of his 'family'...Ben Johnson, Harry Carey, Jr, and Claude Jarman, Jr, actually did their own stunts while performing the 'Roman Style' riding sequence (Carey said in interviews that they were all young, and didn't think about the danger of it; a production would lose their insurance if they 'allowed' three major performers to do something as risky, today!)...Did you know that O'Hara, playing Jarman's 'mother', was barely 14 years older than her 'son', and was only 29 at the time of the filming?...Harry Carey barely had any lines in the script; most of what you see in the film was ad-libbed!...the popular ditty, 'San Antoine', sung by Jarman, Carey, Johnson, and Curtis, was, in fact, written by Mrs. Roy Rogers, herself, Dale Evans!Whether you're viewing 'Rio Grande' for the first time, or have sat through many viewings, the film has a richness and sense of nostalgia for a West that 'may never have existed, but SHOULD have'. It would be a proud addition to any collector's library!"
Rio Grande finest of much vaunted "Ford Cavalry Trilogy"
Robert Morris | 01/05/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Rio Grande, shot in glorious black and white, is in a way the most colorful of the three cavalry movies that John Ford made with John Wayne. As in "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" Wayne is in the starring role but a fetchingly mature Maureen O'Hara is able to hold her own with Wayne and become as powerful a figure in the story. Much of the fun of watching this picture is the on screen chemistry of Wayne and O'Hara, they are totally believable as lovers and as equals. It must be duly noted that they are supported by the John Ford stock company and they are seldom showcased as well as this. Of particular note are superb efforts by Harry Carey, and Ben Johnson who carry their parts in an easy and natural style, and Victor Mclaglen who reprises his Sgt. Quincanon from "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon". The DVD edition was digitized from the original negative and it is indeed beautiful. The soundtrack is also clear although a trifle shrill at times. Wayne, with mustache and crumpled hat never looked better, Victor Young's score is rousing, and Ford is at his sentimental and poignant best in this "must see" western classic."
A Trilogy Completed
Robert Morris | Dallas, Texas | 09/05/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the third of Ford's films which focus on the U.S. Cavalry and its violent encounters with the Apache. Wayne's role in each is quite different. He is a subordinate officer in Fort Apache, a commanding officer about to retire in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and again a commanding officer in this film but estranged from his wife Kathleen (Maureen O'Hara), and son Jeff (Claude Jarman, Jr.) among the men he commands. Lieutenant Kirby Yorke (Wayne) resembles Woodrow F. Call in Lonesome Dove (played by Tommy Lee Jones) who refuses to show any favoritism or even affection whatsoever to his son. (In fact, Call denies his fatherhood.) Of course, Ford ensures that husband and wife are reunited by the end of the film; also, that father and son become close after Trooper Yorke plays a key role in helping to rescue children captured by the Apache and thereby earns his commanding officer's (and father's) respect. A similar relationship exists in Red River except that the conflict is resolved without a brawl. Personally, I would have preferred less reliance on Irish ballads, the focus on Yorke's marital conflicts, and what I view as the macho element of which Ford was so fond. Nonetheless, Wayne's performance is outstanding and the sequence by which the children is rescued is brilliantly portrayed. In additional to much improved sound and image, this DVD version also offers several excellent supplementary features which include a scene-specific commentary with Maureen O'Hara, a mini-documentary "Along the Rio Grande with Maureen O'Hara," and "The Making of Rio Grande" hosted by Leonard Maltin."
June Beck | Tempe, Arizona | 04/22/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film marks the first of five films that John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara made together. Once John Ford got a somewhat reluctant Republic mogul Herbert Yates to agree to produce his long-time dream "The Quiet Man" - Yates added a "condition." That condition was that the same team, Maureen O'Hara, Duke Wayne, do a western film first, to make up for the money he anticipated 'losing' on "The Quiet Man." Yates must have had to eat a lot of crow because not only was "Rio Grande" a box office success, but "The Quiet Man" went on to become an all-time classic masterpiece. "Rio Grande" is an exceptionally wonderful film, and I feel is equal to "The Quiet Man" in it's own genre (Calvalry/western). It is romantic, sensitive, full of action, and everything you would expect from hero John Wayne...and his lovely lady, Maureen O'Hara - plus a happy ending.This is a subject close to my heart because I maintain a website on Ms. O'Hara and have interviewed her, as well as many of her peers, including Harry Carey, Jr., Anna Lee and John Agar. The chemistry of O'Hara and Wayne in itself is an interesting study and long underrated by Hollywood historians...."
Wayne and O'Hara at their Western best
Michelle M. Sundin | Piney Woods of Texas | 06/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love this movie - Maureen O'Hara never looked prettier and John Wayne is his outstanding macho self. Wayne had to complete The Quiet Man in Ireland in order to do this film and John 'Pappy' Ford made exceptionally effective use of the Monument Valley locations. The added bonus is the music of Stan Jones and the Sons of the Pioneers, the number one western music group of all time. Stan (who wrote the classic "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky") wrote almost all the music, also has a speaking role, as does Ken Curtis, the Pioneers' lead singer and who later became "Festus" on Gunsmoke. The story is a classic - a mother's love for her only son along with the anger of a spoiled southern aristocrat caught in the ravages of the Civil War, the former husband whose pledge of Duty, Honor, and Country of the career military man broke up their marriage, and the realization and acceptance by both of that pledge is as integral to the man as were her ties to the South. This should be in the top five of John Wayne movies for collectors - great music, acting, scenery, photography, and message."